I’ve been asked by a few slightly, shall we say… apprehensive parents which apps I would recommend for their 1 or 2 year old to entertain them on a plane journey. I mean really, what are they worried about…? Cue droll laugh. In my mind any flight over about 6 hours with small kids is akin to one of those mad endurance challenges that people put themselves through where they have to crawl through mud for 20 kilometers carrying three tyres on their head or swim under arctic pack ice with no wetsuit. No that is not melodrama, that is… traveling with kids. If you are thinking the in flight entertainment will sort them out, well sorry, they don’t sit and pay attention to that until around age 3 I reckon, when the fact they are allowed to watch 14 hours of reruns of Postman Pat without being told to switch it off is a fairly mind blowing treat. Now of course the iPad is not going to entertain them for the whole flight, but a few well sourced apps will certainly be a welcome addition to your entertainment options once chasing them up and down the aisle 900 times / playing peekaboo with the increasingly grumpy guy sitting behind / pressing ALL the buttons above and accidentally summoning the air hostess 14 times / opening and closing the tray table 15 million times and annoying the woman in front by additionally kicking her seat… may have worn just a tad thin.
So we’ll start with the apps and move onto a few suggestions for non screen activities:
Marketed as a digital toy box, this app is more than it first seems. Kids have to build towers and knock them down. They learn a bit about gravity, get to be creative by choosing from the selection of funny blocks which ones should make up their tower and they have to really put the dexterity of their little fingers to use working out the controls of the crane that carries the blocks. Cool A digs it and returns to it often.
Developed by Duck Duck Moose, the creators of many fine apps, this app is a wonderful and musical intro to letters, numbers, shapes and colours. Additionally there is a free play screen where kids can press and move the fish to watch how they react. The kids love interacting with the sea animals and have some great basic learning reinforced as they do.
From the ever awesome Toca Boce studio: kids get to explore cooking by selecting food from the fridge, deciding how to cook it and offering it one of the four customers. Their facial expressions will let you know what they think of your cooking. I love this app because it is completely open ended play, with no time limits, high scores or gold stars. The value and fun is in experimenting plus it’s a great one for social play – use with your child and talk about the different reactions and emotions, the different foods and cooking options.
Elmo Loves ABCs
What toddler selection would be complete without the wonderful Elmo? Slightly more expensive but worth the cost, this is a heavy weight app with loads of content to keep little ones entertained whilst learning. Each letter has games, songs and activities to try, even letter tracing although they may need some help with this. Winner of a slew of app awards. Quality content from Sesame Street.
I think I might have to buy shares in Toca Boca, their whole range is completely awesome. You little one can have unlimited fun exploring all the different musical characters and placing them in various positions on the stage. Inventive open ended apps are the best for little brains and the creation of music is it’s own reward here, no gimmicks or cheesy ‘You’re awesome!’ fake feedback every 5 seconds. Simply the joy of discovering how to make music!
Sago Mini Monsters
Cute creative app where kids get to create their own monster, play with it, feed it, brush it’s teeth and then decorate it to make it look truly wonderful. This one caused lots of chuckles as eyes and mouths were pulled off and new ones grew. Sago Sago are another designer of wonderful toddler apps that encourage creativity and curiosity. I may have enjoyed playing with this one too… Oh and this one is FREE at the moment 🙂
Also check out also these previously reviews apps which are great additions to this list: Bubl Draw , First Words Deluxe and Paint my Wings
OK, so we have stocked up the iPad, what other activities might help the hours fly by? Here are a few ideas:
1) Stickers. Lots of them. Ideally ones that stick and restick easily. Put them everywhere, windows, in books and probably mostly all over your own face. Hilarious.
2) Ask the stewardess for ice and two cups. Tip from one to the other.
3) Bubble wrap. Nuff said.
4) Lots of snacks with tiny bits to keep fingers busy, eg sultanas etc. You’re probably all over this one already.
5) Take pom poms. Throw them on the floor, collect into cups. Try and sort colours etc.
6) Sick bags + pens = puppets. Puppets who love playing peek a boo.
7) Duplo Lego. A small bag of blocks with some kid of base to build on works a treat.
8) Go and meet other kids on the plane. They entertain each other, hooray!
Good Luck adventuresome folk! Do you have any great tried and tested plane travel toddler tips?
4 thoughts on “Sanity Savers! Apps and Ideas for Entertaining Toddlers on a Plane”
Great app suggestions and ideas (bubble wrap is brilliant!). I am in awe of anyone who flys with kids – the thought of my two toddler tornadoes confined on a plane for a number of hours scares the living bejesus out of me (although I’m sure your suggestions would help fill in some time!). A 25 minute ferry ride to Rottnest Island each year is enough for me to handle at this point in time!
Haha, yeah you are not alone. You have the Tornados and I have the Tasmanian Devils! We’re taking them to Rottnest next year, could be mayhem if we end up on the same ferry!! All the bubble wrap in the world won’t tame that combo 😉
We are loving the elmo app thank Jess, so much to learn and makes me guilt free which is very important!
Great! Happy to hear I’ve helped you discover a great app. That one pretty much taught L all his letters 🙂 Love Sesame Street apps.